The Kid Report 2018
Here’s What Kids Were Doing This Year and a Gift Guide That Shows You Get Them
It’s easy for adults to reflect on the past year and think, “this was a really crumby year.” I won’t even remind you of what made the year so crumby. The list is long, and it always has been—partly thanks to being human, and partly circumstance—if you have time reflect on the state of the year, a middle schooler would justifiably tell you that you have “first world problems.”
While adults were coping with 2018 by binge watching The Great British Baking Show and reminiscing about the good ‘old days on Stranger Things, kids were grooving to the beat of their own collective drum. As part of a team of human moderators at kindness social app Kudos, I spent more of the year thinking about what was on kids’ minds than my own. And, I can still conclusively report, kids are way cooler than us. Here’s a couple of things that will forever be a part of their good ‘ole days.
The Rainbow Obsession
Unicorns with rainbow manes, horses pooping rainbows, rainbows pouring out of your child’s mouth, rainbow hair...rainbow, rainbows everywhere. Why is it that kids can’t get enough? If you were an adult residing in social media land last year, you would have known that the rainbow explosion took off on Instagram. And, as with most things, kids continue the trends that are just too good to let go of (I’m still singing “Let It Go” from Frozen thanks to 10-year-olds). Let’s face it, rainbows make for appealing photography. They also make anything appear edible, and we are culture of eaters. A 2014 study shows how color, and more specifically, the arrangement of color increases the pleasantness of a dining experience and can help stave off boredom. Considering that kids tend to be picky eaters, rainbow foods equate to “yum,” while adults see Yellow #5. If we extend this thought to inedible rainbow goods, it is easy to see why kids want to rainbowify their life—it is more exciting!
Rainbow Gift Suggestion: Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn Mug
In “kid small talk” topics this year, inclusion was a common theme. Gender is a word that kids are not afraid to use. They’ll throw it in their Wheaties for breakfast. Some kids choose not to identify their gender. They ask each other to not assume their gender. They say sorry for assuming another’s gender. They ask questions like, “What does LBGTQ mean?” They draw pictures of mythical creatures, like dragons, and label their gender as “trans.” If you think your child is not thinking about gender, you are probably out to a long lunch. And we see kids’ tendency for inclusion spreading to all kinds of human facets—learning, physical, religious, political. This can best be summed up in what one Kudos kid said to another about her post on her epilepsy: “Yasssss!!!! You are beautiful!!! I love your confidence!! You are wonderful and do not let anybody say different!!”
Inclusion Gift Suggestion: Inclusion T-Shirt
The B-word has been deeply etched on the hearts and minds of kids since who-knows-when, and thanks to school programs, and initiatives led by youth, bullying is now a topic that is at the forefront of child advocacy efforts. Kids are picking up tools from educators, parents and probably most effectively, each other, to address bullying. Kids like to find solidarity in shared experiences, give each other advice on how to handle bullying, and say, “stop being a bully” when they feel they are being bullied. Bullying isn’t the only issues kids are speaking up about: If they are feeling sad, anxious or depressed, they share. Mental illness isn’t taboo to kids. Which brings us to our next trend.
Speak Out Gift Suggestion: Be a Changemaker
Your stress maker may be your child’s stress taker. Exhibit A: Slime. Slime supposedly peaked in popularity last year, but it is showing no sign of drying up. Who knew that glue and borax could take the world by storm? Slime’s popularity is linked to the ASMR social media trend, which is the art of using sounds and movements to help someone relax (like running fingers along your arm). Kids not only make slime, they watch slime videos. Popping, squishing, kneading large quantities of colorful slime is very satisfying to observe. Kids are also still into squishies—which don’t need a lot of explanation. Kids love them. They are car-seat in origin, but took a new shape when an inventor in Japan thought they could be cute, thus Kawaii (“cute” in Japanese) Squishies were born. Kids have always found inanimate objects to love and love hard, and it isn’t just placebo: studies support the power of tactile stimulation in helping to soothe us.
Stress Relief Gift Suggestion: Squishy Soap Kit
Out with the cliche Disney Princess, in with Sailor Moon. Out with One Direction, in with BTS. Kids are looking beyond the Western pop canon for something more relevant. Sailor Moon, the manga story of a school girl turned warrior, is making a comeback in the US. The K-Pop boy band BTS, which now tops the global pop charts, is a South Korean social media phenomenon whose lyrics point to societal woes. With songs like, “Am I Wrong,” that talk about the negligence of officials when a ferry carrying mostly middle school students sank in 2014, they strike the activist chord in the hearts of kids today. All hope hasn’t been lost for Western creativity—look no further than Hamilton. Kids love the sound of it; parents love the history lesson.
Global Storyline Gift: Inspire Me Korea Culture Box